Common Soil Community Farm - start-up

by Georgina Anstey in Stroud, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom

£7,752

raised so far

70

supporters

Please support us to set-up a community food-growing organisation at the end of Summer Street in Stroud.

by Georgina Anstey in Stroud, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom

We're still collecting donations

On the 14th February 2022 we'd raised £7,582 with 67 supporters in 56 days. But as every pound matters, we're continuing to collect donations from supporters.

New stretch target

If we raise more than £6,000 we will be able to build some shelter for community events, buy some tools and small machinery to make the work more efficient and look at bringing livestock onto the farm.


Our vision is of people connected to, nourished by, and working in harmony with, the natural environment to produce food locally. Become part of this exciting new community farm project by supporting us to set it up.

Why we plan to set up a new community farm

  • There are many people in Stroud wanting a regular, locally-grown, chemical-free weekly vegetable box and to be connected to where and how it’s grown. Stroud Community Agriculture (SCA) has a huge waiting list for their veg boxes and most vegetable stalls at the weekly farmer's market travel in from other parts of the county or further afield.
  • Producing food locally, without chemicals and with respect for the land and biodiversity, makes such an important contribution to reducing carbon emissions, damage to the environment and our health.
  • In recent times the importance of food security has been highlighted and can be addressed by sustainably and locally-produced food.
  • It’s a fulfilling community activity to be involved in, bringing back connection to nature, our food and each other.

What the community farm will offer

Our mission is to create a place where all kinds of people can come to connect with food growing, the land and each other. With your support, we will offer:

  • Weekly, chemical-free vegetable boxes, supplemented by herbs and fruit.
  • Opportunities for people, including vulnerable individuals, to engage with the food growing and support their health, nourishment, purpose, skills and sense of belonging.
  • Seasonal celebrations, farm tours and workshops around food production to support learning and to enjoy the produce together.
  • The chance for members to have a say in how the farm is run and food is produced and to support the growers through all the seasons.

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Who we are

We're a group of 9 people who’ve been working to set up Common Soil community farm (with SCA’s blessing). Here’s who a few of us are:

  • Allison, Alec, Ama, Daniela, Tamsin and Riem – all experienced local growers who have worked organically and biodynamically in the past.
  • Bernard – a grower who helped to set-up Stroud Community Agriculture and now sits on their core group and ours.
  • Georgie – a charity sector advisor who supports community organisations to be strong and to make the biggest difference. 
  • Jess - helping us out with communications.

There are also around eight other volunteers who've been helping out at our growing site when they can.

We've already grown from digging our first beds around 18 months ago...

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...to getting initial growing established...

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We've learnt so much in that time about what grows best on the site, how to pack and store, built a volunteer base and generated local interest in our vegetable boxes. All those involved are putting in between one and three days a week on a voluntary basis at the moment. We now want to take it to the next stage and expand what we can provide to, and with, the community.

Money we need to raise:

We're looking to raise £6,000 from the community. We plan to match that with grant funding from promising opportunities we're exploring, so we have the £12,000 needed to get set up by the next growing season to produce regular vegetable boxes and begin events.

It’s not easy to secure funding for the start-up period, without a record of grant history, so we’re hoping the community can rally round to support us! Our current growers and volunteers are also donating time and money to the project, in addition to the money we're looking to raise.

The funding is for equipment such as: a polytunnel, tools, fencing, seeds, compost, netting, fleece etc. and to pay land rent. There will also be several months after planting before we can generate any income from vegetable sales to support the growers. In future, the farm will be financially self-sufficient from vegetable box sales and membership fees.

Structure and membership

We've recently registered Common Soil as a Community Benefit Society and we will work under the Community Supported Agriculture model, which is described as “…a partnership between farmers and consumers in which the responsibilities, risks and rewards of farming are shared.”

The farm will have two kinds of membership:

  • Community members who support the farm with a small monthly subscription (around £3 per month) and can have a say in its development as well as access to the farm for work sessions or social events, workshops and celebrations.
  • Vegetable share members who pay weekly for a share of the produce, as well as community membership.

We will ensure that the cost of membership does not preclude anyone from joining by offering bursaries and open engagement sessions.

We need your help

Please help us to get this initiative properly set up and running for the next growing season to benefit many local individuals, protect the environment and invest in sustainable ways of feeding people for the future. 

If you aren’t able to help financially at the moment we’ll also gratefully accept any donations of large cardboard boxes you have (for use covering beds and suppressing weeds). Please get in touch to arrange to drop them at the field.

For more information about anything to do with the community farm (e.g. register interest in veg boxes, volunteering or membership) please contact us on: [email protected]

Thank you!

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Rewards

This project offered rewards

£13 or more

Adopt a pumpkin!

We will plant, nurture and raise a pumpkin with your name on (maybe not literally - they stretch quickly!). You're welcome to arrange to visit your pumpkin to check on its welfare. In October you can bring your family to a harvest event to pick your pumpkin and take it home to eat or display for Halloween. Think of those poor pumpkins with sad, cramped, chemical-filled lives before they're harvested. This pumpkin will be loved throughout!

£16 or more

Boost the berry bushes

We will plant an extra berry bush on our site for you, or you could gift it to another person and we'll do it in their name. You can join us in the autumn in future years (after the first!) to harvest the fruits of it. This may be a raspberry cane, redcurrant, gooseberry, blackcurrant bush or one of many other varieties. Sustainable Christmas gift?

£19 or more

Mystery herb box

A hand-grown and curated selection of herbs for cooking, teas and other uses. All grown without the use of chemicals and presented neatly to be given as a gift or for your own household use. Collection to be arranged from the farm in summer time.

£27 or more

Vegetable box

One full vegetable box of our produce, grown without chemicals and with plenty of love. Usually 6 to 8 items; a mix of roots and greens. A limited number of people will be able to sign up for a vegetable share in the first year, so we're offering a one-off box for those who give us a donation to boost set-up (whether you are later signed up as a member or not). Collection from the farm in summer.

£36 or more

One-year community membership

For £3 per month you can become a community member of the farm. Membership means you will be invited to attend our farm events (such as harvest celebration, lantern walk etc.), will be offered purchase of surplus produce, can attend farm visit and volunteer sessions and are supporting us to run in all seasons. Members can also vote on the direction and strategy of the farm and receive a monthly newsletter.

£100 or more

Workshop

We will be running natural craft and processing workshops and for a larger donation you can choose a place on any workshop within the next 12 months. Workshops are likely to include wreath-making, preserve-making, hedge laying and herb processing.

£200 or more

Access to vegetable share (inc. 2 months box cost)

There will be a very limited number of vegetable shares in the first year who will receive a weekly box of produce. If you'd like to be one of these people then please help us to get set up for you. This donation will include the first two months of vegetable boxes and farm membership (chargeable after that). The weekly veg boxes will be available for collection from the farm in early summer.

£500 or more

Founding Funder

Appear in a roll of honour inscribed on our collection shed for really helping us to get going. You’ll also get membership of the farm for 3 years included.

£1,000 or more

Name the polytunnel

You get to name our new polytunnnel whatever you choose and have it inscribed on a plaque at the entrance.

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